Wednesday, January 26, 2011

USS Gudgeon: A WWII Boat of Firsts

USS Gudgeon in July 1941 (U.S. Navy)
 On December 11 1941, USS Gudgeon (SS-211) sailed from Pearl Harbor on the first American submarine offensive patrol of World War II. When she returning from her patrol some 51 days later, Gudgeon contributed two more impressive "firsts" for the U.S. Navy’s submarine fleet. She was the first American submarine to patrol along the Japanese coast itself, as her patrol area took her off Kyushu in the Japanese home islands, and became the first U.S. Navy submarine to sink an enemy warship during World War II, the Japanese submarine I-73.

While about 240 miles west of Midway Island, USS Gudgeon, commanded by Lt. Cmdr. (later Vice Admiral) Elton Grenfell, received a message advising him that three Japanese submarines would be passing through the area that Gudgeon was transiting during its return to Pearl Harbor.
A Japanese Type KD6 submarine like I-73 (from
On January 27 1942, Gudgeon’s sonar picked up propeller noise from the Japanese submarine I-73. The Japanese submarine was returning to Yokosuka from a patrol that had taken her deep into American waters, off the coast of California and Washington. Gudgeon, running submerged, spotted the surfaced enemy submarine and began its attack. I-73 was running on a straight course, not zigzagging, with many of her crewmen on deck. Lt Cmdr Grenfell fired three Mark 14 torpedoes from a range of 1,800 yards, scoring two hits*. I-73 sank with all hands at 28-24N, 178-35E, becoming the first enemy warship sunk by an American submarine during World War II.

* Post-attack analysis by the ComSubPac staff at Pearl Harbor indicated that Gudgeon’s unreliable Mark 14 torpedoes might have been duds. The theory holds that the I-73's crew spotted the wakes of the incoming torpedoes, panicked and dove with either their main induction valve or a hatch open, never to resurface.

Gudgeon conducted ten more successful war patrols, but was lost on her twelfth war patrol. Gudgeon was officially declared overdue and presumed lost on 7 June, 1944. Captured Japanese records shed no light on the manner of her loss, and it must remain one of the mysteries of the silent sea. It is believed Gudgeon was lost to an aerial attack 166 miles southeast of Iwo Jima on April 18, 1944.

During her three-year war career, Gudgeon sank 14 ships totaling over 71,372 tons, placing her 15th on the honor roll of American submarines. For her first seven war patrols Gudgeon received the Presidential Unit Citation and she earned 11 battle stars for World War II service.

Monday, January 24, 2011

Binnacle List: Bob Opple

Pat Householder passed along the following information about Bob at the January meeting:

"Bob is currently undergoing Proton radiation treatment for Prostate cancer at Loma Linda Hospital in California. He expects the treatments to continue for 2 1/2 months, and the procedure has a 93% cure rate."
Bob with granddaughter Leah at the 2010 Tolling of the Boats
Please keep Bob in your thoughts and prayers while he goes through his treatment.

Sunday, January 23, 2011

A Few Items from the January Meeting

Here are a few items of interest from the January meeting.

2011 Holland Club:
The Seattle Base Holland Club inductees for 2011 are: Joe Berry, Dick Gonzales, Robert Lange, Don Ross, and Don Ulmer.

Joe, Dick, and Don Ulmer were at the January meeting to pick up their certificate and patch, they also shared a few stories from their time in the Navy.

The Holland Club is for USSVI members that have been designated "Qualified in Submarines" for fifty years or more. The Holland Club was named after John Philip Holland an engineer who developed the first submarine to be formally commissioned by the U.S. Navy.

January Program:
USS H-1 from the website
 Ric Hedman gave a great presentation about William Delamain, a submariner who died during the grounding of the USS H-1 in 1920. Ric researched the Delamain's life and service with James Haas, who had been looking for more information about Delamain for his hometown American Legion when he came across Ric's website. The program also included a history of USS H-1 and a pictorial tour of an H class submarine.

Ric has posted William Delamain's story on, along with information and pictures of the H class submarines.

Thanks to Ric for sharing this story with all of us.

Good of the Order Notes:

Good Search
Would you like to help USSVI and the USSVI Charitable Fund without any cost to yourself? You can do that by using Good Search as your search engine an entering USSVI or USSVCF as your organization of choice.

Good Search is a Search engine like Yahoo or Google, with a major difference. Every time you use the site to do a search, they make a note of the organization you've chosen. Every December Good Search sends a check to that organization with the amount sent based on the number of searches done through Good Search. Good Search is a Yahoo service.

All you need do is go to the Good Search page (, then make it one of your favorites. Once you have located the site you will see a block that asks: “WHO DO YOU GOODSEARCH FOR?” Just type “USSVI” or “USSVCF”, click VERIFY and we are in business. You are getting the information you are looking for and Submarine Veterans is receiving a donation. It doesn’t get any easier than that.

You can also use the Good Shop service on the website and your selected organization will receive a percentage of the purchase as a donation. They have thousands of reputable merchants in the program including, WalMart, Sears, Target, Office Depot, Staples, Lowes, and on and on.

Be sure to pass the information about this service on to your family and friends to get them to sign up too.

Plankowner Ring
The Mount Vernon Police are circulating a note saying they have recovered a Plankowner ring (a silver ring with a blue stone) from the USS Ohio (SSBN 728). If you know someone that might be the owner, please have them contact the Mount Vernon Police.

Monday, January 17, 2011

January Meeting Announcement


You are all invited to our next Seattle Base meeting this coming Wednesday, January 19th. Pre-meeting social time starts at 6 PM and the business meeting starts at 7PM.

On the Agenda:
Tolling of the Boats lost in January

Shipmates January Birthdays

Tahoma National Cemetery Vandalized: Bronze Plaques replacement

Holland Club new member ceremonies

Base Election of Officers: if you would like to run for an office (and we do need you) - contact Steve Shelton (Election Chair) at 206-526-1130

How can you donate to the USSVI or USSVCF (United States Submarine Veterans Charitable Foundation) without costing you any Money. We will detail the process.

January Program:
Ric Hedman, webmaster for: (a fantastic site detailing U.S. subs from 1900 to 1940) will present a program perpetuating the memory of lost shipmates and the combined fates of USS H-1 and a young sailor.

I look forward to seeing you.

Keith Watson
Commander, Seattle USSVI Base

Monday, January 10, 2011

Establishment of the first Nuclear Power School in New London, CT.

On January 10 1956, the first formal Naval Nuclear Power School was established in New London, Connecticut in January 1956 with a pilot course offered for six officers and fourteen enlisted men. Prior to this, training for fleet operators was initially conducted by civilian engineers at Idaho Falls, Idaho and West Milton, New York. Training at Idaho Falls would continue until 1958.

Subsequent locations for Nuclear Power School include Bainbridge, Maryland (1956-1976); Mare Island, California (1958-1976); Orlando, Florida (1976-1998) and its current location, Charleston, South Carolina. In 1986, Nuclear Field "A" School was established in Orlando to provide nuclear in-rate training to Sailors prior to attending Nuclear Power School. In 1993, the Nuclear Field "A" School and Nuclear Power School were joined to create the Naval Nuclear Power Training Command.

On June 1, 2000 Naval Nuclear Power Training Command was recognized with the Meritorious Unit Commendation for extraordinary achievement during the period April 1998 through May 2000.
Following graduation from Nuclear Power School, officer and enlisted personnel are assigned to one of the program's prototype propulsion plants in New York or South Carolina for 24 weeks of additional classroom and hands-on training.

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Pre-World War II Service in Submarines Video

Here is a Navy film on the submarine service uploaded to YouTube by Periscope Films.

Thanks to Jay Davis for passing along the link.

You can click on the Full Screen icon (the four arrows pointing out on the lower right portion of the screen) to get a full-screen view of the video.

If the embedded player does work, you can find the video on YouTube at:

Film Description:
This pre-World War II film profiles the Submarine Training School at New London Connecticut. Features footage of the R4 (R-4) and R11 (R-11) both R-1 class diesel submarines.

Sunday, January 2, 2011

January - February Issue of The Dolphin Brotherhood Posted

The January-February 2011 issue of the Dolphin Brotherhood has been posted on the Seattle Base website.

This issue has photos from the Auburn Veteran's Day Parade and our Holiday Luncheon, along with the usual base news, upcoming events, and other submarine related articles.

Hardcopies should go out in the mail next week. I hope you all enjoy it.

As always, don't forget to check back here for base news updates and other articles. You can find old issues of the newsletter at: Dolphin Brotherhood Archives, which is also a link on the right-side of the blog.

Dave Schueler
USSVI Seattle Base Newsletter Editor